Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are used somewhere between 50,000 to 80,000 times a year, according to 2013 figures. The frequency of SWAT team usage increased about 20 times in comparison to 1980 figures.
SWAT teams are intended to engage in higher risk operations outside of standard police procedures, such as hostage negotiations and counter-terrorism, which require more specialized weapons and safety equipment.
SWAT teams date back to 1967, when the Los Angeles Police Department created the first one after a slew of standoffs in the US with revolutionary groups such as the Black Panthers and Symbionese Liberation Army. Since the 1970s, the number of SWAT teams has increased significantly, which is thought to be due to a reduction in US military forces after the Cold War.
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